I saw this news item on the BBC News website on Wednesday (31st of July), and I thought I would write a blog about it.
I am assuming many DUK readers of this blog (yes, that’s you two Mr. and Mrs. Evans), as well as some readers from elsewhere will have heard of the legal battle “locked-in syndrome” sufferer Tony Nicklinson and his wife fought to give him the right for a doctor to end his life. Mr. Nicklinson died naturally soon after the last appeal for his right to assisted suicide was denied by the Courts.
Currently assisted suicide is illegal in England & Wales, and I believe in Scotland too (Scotland has a separate legal system from England & Wales). This news story reports that the latest appeal of Tony Nicklinson’s widow to legalise assisted suicide has failed. Of course, any person in the DUK can travel to e.g. Dignitas in Switzerland, who will perform assisted suicide. But, of course, pro-assisted suicide campaigners in the DUK want the law to be changed so that they don’t need to travel to die.
It is my understanding, and please correct me my US readers (all 2.5 of you), that assisted suicide is allowed in some US states; I believe Oregon is one. Certainly during the time I lived in the US (1992-2001), Dr. Jack Kevorkian was one of the most prominent campaigners for assisted suicide. He was imprisoned several times during my 9 years there for helping other people die.
My personal view is that this is a very complex issue. I hope I never reach a state of physical or mental health where my quality of life is so poor that I would prefer to die, but am not able to take my own life. There was a time in the DUK where attempting suicide was illegal; if you failed you would be prosecuted (they couldn’t really prosecute you if you succeeded!). That law has now been changed, but still having a medically qualified person help you to end your own life is illegal.
What do people think about this issue? For those of a religious nature, I am sure they think that only God can morally take life as He is the one that has given it. But what about people like myself who don’t hold such a religious belief? What are the rights and wrongs of assisted suicide? It is always wrong? Always right? Or does it depend on individual circumstances?